When someone is described as having earned so much respect and admiration through his honesty, hard work and caring of others, you know that person is Carlos Ortiz. He has lived his life by the traditions of the West, caring for the land, livestock, family and friends.
Both his paternal and maternal grandparents homesteaded and settled in the Trementina and Garita areas in the early 1900s.
There were 10 children in Carlos' family, Carlos being the youngest. Times were tough as they were for so many at that time. During the drought of the mid-fifties his parents saw fit to sell the livestock and lease out their land. When one baby girl was 14 days old, they packed up all they owned and moved to Albuquerque to find work. Carlos was three years old when the lease was up and they were able to go back home. The first night back he asked for someone to turn the lights on. When it was explained that the coal oil lamps were the light, he countered with “There is better light, just pull the cord." It was many years before they could "pull the cord" to get light. Due to the remoteness of their land, they had no electricity nor telephone until 1980.
When his dad passed away, Carlos was only seven years old. When money was short and grass was scant he worked hard at singeing spines off cacti to feed the cattle. Since he was very young he showed grit and determination to get things done and to do them right.
After finishing high school and trade school, Carlos began working at neighboring ranches. When he got married in 1980 he went to work for the Clabber Hill and then for the Willie White ranch out of Gate City and the Chappel-Spade until they sold out. He has worked on, managed and helped at various ranches. Carlos now has his own place, worked the Trementina place, and manages a ranch for Hollis Klett as well as leasing acreage in the area. He has learned the proper way to run a ranch, from working cattle horseback to fencing and he doesn’t believe in just taking the easy way out. He enjoys the feeding, branding and neighboring. He breaks and finishes horses for himself and others and is a top team roper.
Neighboring is one of the ranching duties that Carlos enjoys. He likes to help anytime he can and is in high demand as a “top all-around hand." Be it branding, shipping, doctoring, calving or whatever, Carlos gives it his all. In the last couple of years there have been days that he has been seen feeling badly health-wise, but he was still there on horseback and working cattle. When asked why he didn’t stay home and rest, he always responded that it is what he loves and is when he is the happiest, and that he’s not going to quit.
A few years ago he was worried about the young people and preserving our ranching heritage. He felt that they needed to learn how to be good hands by example and had a “kid’s branding." Breakfast was at 5 a.m. and they were off. The kids gathered, sorted, flanked, branded and drug calves to the fire. They all learned how it was done, and Carlos made sure they had a good time doing it, and he made them feel so proud of their day’s work. He loves helping children with their horsemanship, cattle work and roping, helping with their 4-H projects and youth rodeo competitions. He enjoys seeing the younger generation having an interest in ranching and developing that love for the lifestyle that he has.
Carlos is a sensitive, caring, loyal person, who believes in God. When his friend had a tragedy he was the first there and the last to leave. He is described as “no fair weather friend; he is there through thick and thin, the good and the bad, the sunshine and the storms, a man you can depend on. You need only to see where Carlos was raised, way back off the beaten path (you can barely get there by horseback) to know how far he has come. To come from there with such humble beginnings and become as knowledgeable and respected as he is, he is well deserving of this award”.
— Submitted by Renee' Rinestine